Unveiling the past of Chivalry Essay

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It is not uncommon to hear the words “chivalry is dead” in the 21st Century. This comment usually implies that there is a lack of polite behavior amongst men; however, the term chivalry was originally used in the medieval era to describe knights. In fact, the phrase “chivalry is dead” is entirely contradictory to the word chivalry’s initial meaning. During the middle ages, the description of a knight as chivalrous was attached to the ideas of high morals, polite conduct, and loyal bravery. In Layamon’s Brut, an extended adaptation of Wace’s Roman de Brut, the morals, conduct, and bravery aforementioned are the quintessential characteristics of the good knight who is so faithful to King Arthur. The first time that the knight is …show more content…
Chaucer writes, “A Knight ther was, and that a worthy man, That fro the time that he first bigan To riden out, he loved chivalrye, Trouthe and honour, freedom and curteisye” (219). This representation of the knight attaches at least six venerable qualities to knighthood, and, thus, chivalry. King Arthur’s knight, in Layamon’s adaptation, envelops these traits as well, which makes him chivalrous. The knight is King Arthur’s most credible source for information and is also his confidant. The King tells the knight of his unsettling dream, to which the knight responds with words of comfort. He says, “Dreams should never be interpreted as harbingers of sorrow! You are the most mighty prince who has rule in any land, And the most intelligent of all inhabitants on the earth” (Layamon 126). This evokes in King Arthur the need to express his concerns further, which merely demonstrates his trust in the knight. Chaucer’s description of freedom stands for generosity of spirit (219). This quality seems to describe King Arthur’s knight accurately. He understands the King’s concern about Queen Guinevere and Modred and tells him that, unfortunately, his nightmare is reality. The knight says, “I am telling you the truth, dear King, for I am merely your underling…” which demonstrates his possession of the trouthe characteristic that Chaucer describes. (Layamon 126). This trait is distinctive of chivalry and

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